Communications Data Myth Busting : The Central Database

Today at Prime Ministers questions, a popular myth about the draft Communications Data Bill was yet again used by the Government.

Labour Mr John Cryer asked: “Can you tell the House how the snoopers’ charter, which the Government plans to introduce shortly, differs from the proposals in 2009, which both governing parties opposed when they were sat on this side of the House?”

Responding, Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “It differs enormously from that because the proposal of the last government was to hold all the data in a central database.”

Erm, no it wasn’t.

In 2008, Labour proposed a central database of communications data. However, in 2009 this proposal was dropped and it was not part of the Government’s consultation on communications data.

Indeed, the Information Commissioner references this in his response to the plans, saying: “The Information Commissioner welcomes the fact that the consultation document rejects the proposal that all of the additional data collected be kept in a single database, held by the Government or a central agency.”

The Coalition’s plans resurrect the plans consulted upon in 2009, while also including provisions for a filtering function that would allow the same functionality of a central database, while leaving private companies responsible for protecting and securing the collected data.

So anyone who says that Labour didn’t propose a system of databases maintained by service providers is either deliberately trying to mislead or has a very short memory.